RACING ON SKATES
Saskatoon man launches international ice racing league and helps design a blazing course in Finland.
His new venture is just getting off the ground — or, in this case, ice — but Tim Cimmer isn’t hesitating to dream big.
“The participation in this is fantastic from a world point of view. It’s such an entertaining sport,” said the 39-year-old Saskatoon resident. “It’s exciting to know it meets all the criteria to actually now become an Olympic event.”
Cimmer is the organizer of the World Ice Cross League and co-creator of its first course in Laajavuori, Finland.
The première event runs Saturday in the city of about 200,000 people, located nearly 300 kilometres north of Helsinki.
It’s similar to Red Bull Crashed Ice, except that circuit is staged on downhill courses.
Ice cross tracks are flatter. His course in Laajavuori even features an uphill start, believed to be the first of its kind.
In Cimmer’s mind, the course is more inclusive as it has sections specifically designed for competitors of all ages and skill levels.
That’s bound to increase popularity.
“We opened the doors for everybody to join,” Cimmer said. “The track that we built has many variations from beginners to pros.”
It was just months ago that Cimmer, himself, was a beginner as a racer on skates.
He grew up playing hockey in Battleford, but got the itch to try Crashed Ice after watching a televised competition. Cimmer went to tryouts in Saskatoon and, after getting cut once, qualified for the circuit in November 2012.
“Hockey was a great sport for me. Hockey has zero to do with this,” said Cimmer, who is the president and CEO of Saskatoon-based Future Now Energy. “You put on skates and actually go down this hill … a ski jumper is better designed to do this course than a hockey player.
“The world champion, Derek Wedge, he has trouble stopping on his skates. And he’s the world champion.”
Cimmer has had his share of injuries in his young career. He got hurt in his first competition in 2012. Then he broke his collarbone in a tune-up event for the Crashed Ice Helsinki on Feb. 1. He competed anyway, although he was eliminated early.
However, during his injury-plagued January, he met up with former world champion Arttu Pihlainen.
Pihlainen asked if he would be interested in helping to build an ice cross course.
It was something Cimmer had already been considering. He was in Finland, anyway, so he figured what better time than now?
With the help of hotel staff, the course was completed in 6½ hours. The event and league both came to fruition in less than a month.
Athletes from 22 countries are slated to compete. The list includes Canadians Scott and Kyle Croxall and Travis Nagata, Austrians Luca and Marco Dallago and Swiss Kilian Brown and Jim DePaoli.
Cimmer and Pihlainen will also test their luck on the course that features top speeds of roughly 50 kilometres per hour.
“In going down from a beginner’s perspective, going over those rolls and keeping your balance, it’s such a great accomplishment,” Cimmer said. “Once you go faster and faster through bigger jumps and obstacles, it puts a smile on your face.”
He said he’s received confirmation that other countries will follow Finland’s lead and build tracks. He estimates that by next year there will be 10 courses in Canada and 10 more in the United States.
He’s also pushing to get events at Lake Louise, Alta., and in Battleford, perhaps even expanding competitions to include races involving teams of three.
There’s a long way to go, but Cimmer hopes to see ice cross in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.